Steps to Creating Inclusive Programs

Interrupt oppression when it happens;
Notice your beliefs and stereotypes about the LGBTQ community and communities of
color within your student organization and as an individual;
Call on staff for help when you need it;
Look into scheduling a Safe Zone, Social Justice, or Diversity 101 Training;
Use inclusive language;
Support LGBTQ and Students of Color and their initiatives;
Invite LGBTQ students and Students of Color to the table as partners;
Validate the experiences of LGBTQ and Students of Color by including their concerns in your programming; and,
Eliminate stereotypes.

When planning a program, ask:

  • Who have we left out/behind?
  • How might our message impact communities to which we do not belong? 
  • What assumptions have we made based on our privilege?

If you have any questions or need programmatic support, please feel free to be in touch with The Office of Diversity Services at 617.573.8613 or

Using Inclusive Language

1. Mirror language.

Use the language that people use for themselves. You can pick up on cues about a person’s identity by listening and mirroring. If a person calls their partner their wife, do so also. If someone identifies as bisexual, use that term.

2. Use gender-neutral language whenever possible.

“He or she” was a good step forward, but with growing numbers of Transgender and GenderQueer individuals living outside of the binary genders, a more inclusive option is important. Use “they” if possible or more general labels like “students,” “faculty,” “staff,” or “participants” when applicable.

3. Allow people to self-identify and don’t assume that you know how they identify.

You might be surprised. Make sure you allow moments for people to share their identities with you when appropriate. Think twice before calling a group of people who you assume to be female-identified “ladies.” Don’t assume that you can tell someone’s sexual orientation by the way they look/act or that an LGBTQ person is out of the closet in all areas of their life.

4. Eliminate oppressive language from your lexicon and oppressive ideas from your conversations.

This includes sexist, homophobic, and transphobic biases (to name a few) that are deeply imbedded within our culture and shape the words we say and our view of the world. For example, don’t assume that people in power are male or that if someone is married that they are in a heterosexual marriage.

5. When someone requests that you change your language regarding their identities, respect their wishes and change your language.

Apologize and try again. We all make mistakes. Don’t take it personally and don’t waste time feeling guilty. Recommit and move on.

Words That Hurt

“That’s so gay!” 

“You’re a fag” 

“No Homo!” 




“Gay agenda” 

“I just raped that test” 

“Special rights”

Some of these terms are words are used as identity terms or as in-group terminology. However, in general, these words are offensive and should not be used.